Rugby

Finn Russell: Wales changes do not make Scotland favourites to end Cardiff woe

The Scots have lost 11 successive games in the Welsh capital.

Scotland captain Finn Russell during a team run at the Principality Stadium before Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Wales
Scotland captain Finn Russell Scotland captain Finn Russell during a team run at the Principality Stadium before Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Wales (David Davies/PA)

Finn Russell insists Wales’ inexperience does not make Scotland’s chances of ending a 22-year wait to win in Cardiff any easier.

Scotland have not won at the Principality Stadium since 2002, losing 11 successive games that comprise nine Six Nations contests, a World Cup warm-up fixture and an autumn Test.

But Wales have hit been hit by a long list of injuries and big-name retirements, while British and Irish Lions wing Louis Rees-Zammit has departed to try and launch a career in American football.

Scotland have arrived in Cardiff in the unusual position of being bookmakers’ favourites for this Guinness Six Nations Championship opener.

But Russell said: “With the Welsh side being slightly different to previous years I think people would see Scotland are favourites.

“I don’t view it like that. We’ve not won here in 22 years, so it shows it’s not an easy place for us to come and win.

“We’ve got a more experienced team, but that doesn’t always count on the day.

Blair Kinghorn appears dejected after Scotland’s defeat to Wales in 2022, their 11th successive defeat in Cardiff
Wales v Scotland – Guinness Six Nations – Principality Stadium Blair Kinghorn appears dejected after Scotland’s defeat to Wales in 2022, their 11th successive defeat in Cardiff (David Davies/PA)

“They’ve got very exciting players who will be playing with freedom and that’s part of the joys of having a more youthful side.

“We’re more experienced and we have to lean on that.

“But we’ve got to be careful we don’t overthink the game because it’s a very dangerous team in front of us.

“The atmosphere is one of the best in the world and when the Welsh boys put that red jersey on it’s different to when they are at their clubs.

“It’s a massive challenge for us to win here. We’ve got a few new faces and a few points to prove after a disappointing World Cup, both sides have.”

The Principality Stadium roof will be closed for Saturday’s clash following a U-turn by the visitors.

Under Six Nations regulations, the roof is only closed if both teams agree to it.

Scotland had originally wanted the roof open despite a match-day forecast of persistent light rain.

Scotland trained under a closed Principality Stadium roof on Friday
Scotland Team Run – Principality Stadium – Friday 2nd February Scotland trained under a closed Principality Stadium roof on Friday (David Davies/PA)

But Scotland have now reversed that decision with heavier rain forecast and Wales have accepted their request.

Russell said: “For me personally it doesn’t change too much. I was at Racing for five years and they’ve got an indoor stadium. So I’m pretty used to it.

“I think the weather conditions changed over the week, so that’s why the roof is now closed.

“It will get slightly greasy inside with the humidity, but both teams are under the same conditions. It will make for an exciting and fast free-flowing game of rugby.”